John Oliver Runs Down The Federal Hurdles Still Plaguing Marijuana Legalization

Acceptance of marijuana use has made huge strides in the past several years, as medical marijuana is now legal in some form in 44 states, while recreational use is legal in eight different states. Likewise, while public approval of legalizing the drug was only at 12 percent in 1969; by 2016, 60 percent of the population feels as though marijuana should be legal. Or as John Oliver explained on Sunday’s new Last Week Tonight, “Marijuana is something we’ve just gradually decided is okay, like Mark Wahlberg as a serious actor.”

However the legal issues facing marijuana use remain as murky and problematic as ever. The Controlled Substances Act signed under Richard Nixon in 1970, which is still the law to this day, classifies the drug as a Schedule I illegal substance (even over cocaine and methamphetamine, which fall under the lesser Schedule II classification), making it illegal on a federal level.

This presents a slew of problems. Not just for businesses to be able to legally produce and sell marijuana under their state’s laws, or even obtain a bank account for that matter; but for individuals seeking access to the drug, often times for debilitating medical and mental health issues.

Unfortunately, with the appointment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions — a man who literally thinks marijuana is only “slightly less awful than heroin” and who cites Lady Gaga quotes before congress as a way of getting his point across (“Please Jeff, if you’re going to live your life according to Gaga quotes, accept the entire canon”) — the fight to legalize marijuana is likely only going to be an uphill battle for the foreseeable future.